Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Blog

Yesterday, May 10th, President Barack Obama delivered a major address on immigration in El Paso, Texas.  The framework of Obama’s speech was the agreement Republicans made to support comprehensive immigration reform if border security was first dealt with effectively. Noting that his administration has delivered on its end of the deal (through a “now basically complete” fence on the border, more boots on the ground for border patrol, and substantially better results in terms of seized illegal drugs, weapons and currency), the President argued that it was now time for the Republicans to live up to their end of the deal by supporting comprehensive immigration reform.

Joking about incessantly increasing demands from Republicans on border security before dealing with immigration reform, the President said:

“Now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol.  Or they’ll want a higher fence.  Maybe they’ll need a moat.  Maybe they want alligators in the moat.  [Laughter.]  They’ll never be satisfied.”

Through moving personal stories, Obama made a cogent and compelling moral case for immigration reform, emphasizing that the United States should not be a place where families are separated, where undocumented workers are exploited, and where children pay for the mistakes of their parents. On that last point, Obama reiterated the need to pass the DREAM Act, which allows upstanding and productive citizens who came here as children a path to citizenship. But in addition to the humanitarian case for immigration reform, Obama also noted that immigrants were essential to America’s economic well-being.

“Look at Intel, look at Google, look at Yahoo, look at eBay.  All those great American companies, all the jobs they’ve created, everything that has helped us take leadership in the high-tech industry, every one of those was founded by, guess who, an immigrant. So we don’t want the next Intel or the next Google to be created in China or India.  We want those companies and jobs to take root here. “

On the law enforcement end, Obama boasted of the number of violent criminals deported, but also acknowledged the concerns of immigration reform advocates that deportations have also affected decent people who are just trying to earn a living to support their families. He said that was part of the reason why comprehensive immigration reform is so urgently needed. Reacting to the President’s request for all to get involved in building a movement to bring about the needed reforms, the audience spontaneously broke out into chants of “yes we can.”

To watch the President’s full speech, click here.

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